3. Liga Matchday 1 Preview: Ost-Derby to kick-off the season on Friday

With the 3. Liga just a matter of hours away now, the excitement is beginning to reach fever-pitch levels. From the curtain raiser, to the final game on Sunday, it's a matchday packed with great games.

1. FC Magdeburg - RW Erfurt - Friday 19:30

Last season, 1. FC Magdeburg were crowned winners of the Regionalliga Nordost, pipping Zwickau to the title by three points. They then went on to beat Kickers Offenbach 4-1 in the play-off to gain promotion to the third tier for the first time in seven seasons.

Their opponents, RW Erfurt, finished a solid 12th place last season. They are one of the longest serving teams in the division having been in the 3. Liga, and previously Regionalliga Nord when the division was split, for 10 seasons.

As for the game itself, the strike-power that Erfurt have should prove too much for the new boys to defend against for the full 90 minutes. However, Magdeburg are no slouch going forward either. This game set the tone for the new season, with over 20,000 fans in attendance of the Ost-Derby.

VfR Aalen - Chemnitzer FC - Saturday 13:00

After a dismal campaign last time around, another new team to the 3. Liga line-up is VfR Aalen. They have hopes of bouncing straight back up to 2. Bundesliga, after finishing 18th last term with a haul of 31 points.

Their opponents, Chemnitz, will also be looking to progress themselves further than their 5th position last year and are sure to be gunning for promotion themselves. This should be a very tight encounter, with neither having set the world alight during pre-season. This game should show off two of the league's best teams, and they should be very evenly matched.

Dynamo Dresden - VfB Stuttgart II - Saturday 13:00

The hosts of this game, Dynamo Dresden, will be eyeing a top three finish come the end of the season after their solid 6th place finish last time around, they have also mightily impressed with an unbeaten pre-season and will be a team coming into the season on high confidence.

VfB's second team will, as usual, consist of VfB youth and reserve players so that the main team in the Bundesliga can gauge whether they are good enough for the top division, so they will all be out to impress. They finished 13th last season amassing 47 points from the 38 games which, for a reserve team, is very good.

Dresden to come in good goalscoring form during pre-season and, as previously mentioned, fully confident in their abilities - with Uwe Neuhaus admitted that he wants to achieve promotion as soon as possible. So should VfB leave with any points, they should consider themselves very fortunate.

Erzgebirge Aue - VfL Osnabrück - Saturday 13:00

In the final day drama in 2. Bundesliga last season, it was Erzgebirge Aue who lost out - by a mere five goals on goal difference - to become the second and final team to be relegated to the third tier.

They will be looking to show how strong they are from the off and that the Violets have one of the most dangerous teams in the league. Osnabrück, last season, finished a comfortable 11th in the 3. Liga and will be looking to improve on their mid-table finish. The Westphalians could even have an outside shot at the play-off position, if everything this season goes to plan.

As for the game, Aue look too hot to handle for most teams this season and this should be no exception. They have had a tough pre-season against two Bundesliga teams but they showed they are a force to be reckoned with. Osnabrück will be looking to leave with any sort of result they can get their hands on.

Hansa Rostock vs Werder Bremen II - Saturday 13:00

Hansa Rostock, once giants of German football, last season found themselves luckily avoiding relegation to the Regionalliga - finishing 17th - just two points above the relegation zone with a measly 41 points.

Their opponents, Werder Bremen II, won the Regionalliga Nord last season at a canter and were victorious in the play-off game against Borussia Mönchengladbach's second team, 2-0 on aggregate, in a very closely fought affair. For this game it should be closer than most, with both teams looking like they're going to struggle from the off - anyone who predicts a drab game could be on the money.

Holstein Kiel - 1. FSV Mainz 05 II - Saturday 13:00

The northern-most team in the league last season were also the most unlucky, maybe in any league last season, losing agonisingly in the 91st minute of the second leg of the 2. Bundesliga play-off to 1860 Munich. This season promises to be a good one, with some astute signings they will be looking at an automatic promotion place.

Mainz II will, again, be looking to avoid the drop after finishing 16th last season with 42 points. This term will be a tough one for them with Mainz putting more emphasis on their youth in recent years. This game has the potential to be one-sided, depending on how confident Kiel are after their mediocre pre-season. However, Mainz need to be stubborn in defence and counter very well if they are to escape with a point.

SC Preußen Münster - SG Sonnenhof Großaspach - Saturday 13:00

Münster are keen to improve on their final position last season of 8th, but in pre-season they have been anything but impressive so the jury is out on how they will do this year. Großaspach would have been very pleased with their hard-earned 15th place finish last campaign and look like they will consolidate further this season - with mid-table being the aim - a pre-season win over Bayer Leverkusen shows what they are capable of.

This could be a very close game, despite all signs pointing to a home win. Großaspach are one of the most improved teams in the league and could even be a top half team come the end of the season, as could the hosts.

Stuttgarter Kickers - SC Fortuna Köln - Saturday 13:00

The home side finshed 4th last season and, like many teams around them, will be eyeing a promotion place come the final day. They could be good value for money too, coming in from a reasonable pre-season.

Their visitors from Köln are desperate to survive again after a poor pre-season where they struggled for goals. The Westphalians will be looking to scrap for points but against the top teams a win, or even a draw, will be hard to come by.

In this game it could be the most one-sided of the weekend, with one side gunning for promotion and the others constantly looking over their shoulders. There should also be quite a few goals in this one, as the home side will be wanting to lay down the marker early on.

SV Wehen Wiesbaden vs Würzburger Kickers - Saturday 13:00

Wehen finished a very solid 9th last season and will look to consolidate further in the top half this time around, but that may be tough from the off considering their up and down pre-season - it is hard to gauge how they will start the campaign.

Their opponents, Würzburg, are new to the 3. Liga - so a big welcome to them - and they will be looking to consolidate themselves in the league from the start and they certainly have the quality to do so. They gained an impressive 80 points from the Bayern Regionalliga last season and in the play-offs they beat Saarbrücken on penalties to see themselves through to the third tier.

For the game itself, it should be a very close one. Both teams have the same traits on and off the pitch and, come the end of the game, it wouldn't be surprising to see both come away with a point.

Energie Cottbus - Hallescher FC - Sunday 13:00

Last season the hosts finished 7th - a solid position. They will undoubtedly be looking to get back to the second tier this term, and look more than well-placed to do so with some strong summer signings.

Halle are also keen to further a successful season last time out by improving on their mid-table finish. They may even be looking at that third position as an outside shot, but it seems more likely that they'll end up in the middle of the pack.

On paper it is a very close one but with the home advantage and new signings looking to impress for squad places, Cottbus should have this one covered.